VOTW: Mirka Knapkova Golden in 2011
Women's single sculler Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic had quite a summer in 2011, winning Henley, and building on a solid third place finish in Lucerne to find herself atop the medal stand in Bled, and once again in Plovdiv, where she took the title in the W1x by roughly six seconds at the European Rowing Championships over the weekend (full results from World Rowing). Knapkova began the 2011 campaign with a fifth place finish in Munich. She then opted to compete at Henley Royal Regatta rather than at the second World Cup, and won the event, setting a tone for the rest of the year. Now, like the men's field, there appears to be a group at the top of women's sculling, all of whom could win on any given day, given their level of talent and experience. The W1x A Final in Bled will likely be very similar to that in London next year, and right now there appear to be five athletes (Xiuyun Zhang of China, Emma Twigg of NZ, Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus, Frida Svensson of Sweden, and, of course, Mirka Knapkova) all within reach of the top spot in Eton Dorney.
Watching this race, perhaps the most impressive things that emerge are the power per stroke from both Karsten and Knapkova, and their ability to change speeds -- Knapkova spends much of the first 100m out of medal contention.
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